I had another blog post planned for this week, but then life gives us a little nudge to change our minds and talk about something completely different, something very important. 6 months ago I wouldn’t have been willing to write this blog post, but now I feel I need to. I want to share with you my story of anxiety and living with it, and also give you a few tips to help relieve anxiety when it gets very bad, as mine sometimes does.
So, if you’re not interested in my story, please scroll down to the bottom for the tips, but if you are willing to spare a moment to help me relieve my anxiety as well by speaking about it, then I am very grateful.
My Anxiety Story
I’ve always been quite high strung, as some would say, a bit wound too tightly. In the last years, I’ve learned to let go and most of that is thanks to my amazing husband who has taught me to not sweat the small stuff and who can take away my anxiety with a simple touch. Unfortunately, I didn’t always have him, and there are times when I still don’t (work, nights when he is away for work).
In high school I had such bad anxiety before any athletics races that I went borderline OCD, always needing to pack 3 pairs of clean socks. I started drinking camomile tea from a young age before exams, especially math exams because my anxiety would cause me to break out into tears before the exam.
My anxiety has also caused me physical pain and still does. Sometimes it feels like I’m having a heart attack, but really it’s my chest bone which is so inflamed because of my anxiety that it hurts like a heart attack. If it persists this pain moves to my back, making it difficult to breathe at times and then finally to my ears, making them ring and all the way to my left hand pinky and second last finger, making them ache with spasms.
If I’m not careful my anxiety can turn into jitteriness, restlessness and cause a lack of concentration. Durning these anxious times it becomes harder and harder to bring my mind back to the present and it’s not even that I overthink, I go into a state of complete shutdown.
My skin is probably the only physical symptom people on the outside can see. My breakouts are extreme during times of anxiety and they are painful on top of looking terrible. When this happens my almost 27 year old self feel like an ugly teenager again. Naturally, this creates a vicious circle of self-dought and disgust which does not help the anxiety at all.
Ultimately for someone like me who is a complete overachiever who is always busy and pushing, it’s one of the most crippling feelings.
I hate feeling this way because in some ways it makes me feel weak. It’s ridiculous, but it does. We all know that no one is perfect, but anxiety is one of those hurdles in life that many people don’t recognise and being real. Some will even go so far as to say it’s all in your head.
Now I make a conscious decision not to call anxiety an illness or anything in that light because I also don’t want to stigmatise it for myself. I needed to acknowledge that I have anxiety, but I’ve also found that when I say things like “I’m sick”, many times I become sick. By placing the sick label on anxiety I would be giving it a power over me which I am not willing to give it. So for me anxiety is a hurdle, a life challenge which I know I can overcome and live with successfully.
How do I deal with my Anxiety
If you’ve been living with anxiety for as long as I have it becomes easier and easier to hide from other people, but I know that I need to deal with it otherwise it can result in something much worse.
When I was younger the best way to deal with my anxiety was to take myself out of my secluded, comfortable area and place myself around people who I loved and trusted. I grew up in a house that was always full of people and it wasn’t hard to do this, but now that I’m older, living in a completely different city from my family and most of my friends, it’s not that easy anymore. I’ve had to try other ways to heal myself and work through my anxiety.
So I have 5 things I try and do to deal with and relieve my anxiety…
5 Tips to Relieve Anxiety
1. Camomile Tea & Buchu Tea
I’ve found that both these teas are great ways to relax me and help to calm my anxiety. I do think the process of brewing a cup of tea, waiting for it to cool enough to drink and then sipping, is in itself a type of therapy practice as well. Both these teas release calming vibes into your body which can help you curb the worst of the anxiety.
2. Incense and Essential Oils
Filling my space with a clean, calming smell has made all the difference to me. Just like with tea you are stimulating your senses with something other than the anxiety and calming your mind. I’ve found that Sandlewood Incense works very well for me. Lavender Essential Oils is my go-to for anxiety. I put it on my pillow before bed and I rub it on my body pains caused by the anxiety. I even rub it on my chest and I can immediately feel a release.
The last thing you want to do when you’re anxious is to exercise. Personally, I just want to curl into a little ball and pull the blanket over my paining chest, but at the same time anxiety can make you jittery. Exercising can help relieve this restlessness. You need to find what exercise works for you. Is it a walk around the block, a run, yoga, high intensity. Just remember to not overdo it. If the pain becomes worse, stop.
4. Meditate & Breathing
I’ve written so many blog posts about the wonderful healing properties of meditation and it is all true! I can usually feel my anxiety has set in as I wake up in the morning so for me starting the day with meditation helps to control the anxiety first thing. You can, however, meditate any time you feel like it. Your meditation also doesn’t need to be a full-blown session on your mat staring out the window (let’s be honest anxiety can strike at any time and we definitely don’t have that luxury all the time). It can just be closing your eyes and taking a few really intentional deep breaths. If you’re into technology (and please make sure it doesn’t make your anxiety worse before using it) then the Apple Watch Breath app is a really great tool to help you breathe through your difficult moments.
5. Talk about it
The moment I allowed myself to be honest with other people about my anxiety, I became honest with myself as well. I stopped brushing my anxiety off as simply overthinking and I started making these changes. You know this strange thing happens when we start talking to each other about our flaws and insecurities, we realise we are not alone and there are others, maybe really close to us, with the same or very similar insecurities. Slowly a community starts to blossom and you find the support you need. It’s an incredible thing!
Bonus Tip: Get natural anxiety remedies
I am 100% for natural remedies and I’m no different with anxiety. Because anxiety is something that comes from the brain I’m not a huge fan of pharmaceutical medication to take the edge off. I’d much rather look for something natural, something I know I’ll be able to use all my life, even when I’m pregnant (us women need to think about these things). A good way to know if a product really is natural I’ve found is when it’s safe to use on animals as well. I like the Rescue Tablets from Natura. You also get it in drops and a spray but the tablets are great cause they simply dissolve in your mouth and taste pretty nice.
Talking about my anxiety here has definitely helped me, and if no one else reads this, then at least I got it out. But I do hope that this piece has helped you to take charge of your anxiety as well and offers some form of relief.